Holden withered The Company While Pocketing Billions In Subsidies.
The federal government vowed that Holden will be held to account over its promise to support the 600 workers and hundreds of dealers affected by the company’s decision to cease all Australian operations.
GM announced the end of Holden on Monday, saying it would exit the “highly fragmented right-hand-drive market” and “retire” the Holden brand by 2021.
The decision, three years after the company ceased production in Australia, means about 600 of the company’s remaining 800-person workforce in Australia and New Zealand will lose their jobs by the end of the year.
In a press conference in Melbourne on Monday, GM senior vice president Julian Blissett said the closure was “an issue of scale”.
“With the global consolidation of the automotive industry, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for us to support a brand and a business that operates in just two markets,” he said.
“In short, GM desperately wanted a successful and sustainable Holden in both Australia and New Zealand.
“We implemented a number of alternative strategies but ultimately GM has taken the decision it’s unable to prioritize the significant investment required for Holden to be competitive and profitable long term.”
“I think the fact they took money from Australian taxpayers for all those years just to let the Holden brand wither on their watch, I think is disappointing.
“I think at the end of the day it shows throwing all that taxpayer money at them … they were never going to respect that.”
Work at the carmaker’s Port Melbourne site would be wound down by the end of June and the Lang Lang calibration facility would finish up in August, Blissett said.
There are currently 185 Holden dealerships in Australia and Blissett said the company would offer a “fair package” of transition support for dealers and suppliers. He said the decision to exit the Australian and New Zealand market, as well as ceasing manufacture in Thailand, would cost GM “north of $1bn”.
Holden shuttered its Australian manufacturing in October 2017, forcing hundreds of job losses. In December it announced that it would pull the Commodore brand from showrooms after 42 years, as well as the Astra, due to dwindling sales.
Holden interim chairman and managing director, Kristian Aquilina, said the company had “chased down every conceivable option” to prevent the closure of the brand.
“We have had multiple rounds of discussions and tried to find a way to defy gravity,” he said.
“But the truth and the hard truth was there’s just no way to come up with a plan that would support a competitive and growing and flourishing Holden and also provide a sufficient return to our investors.”
“After considering many possible options – and putting aside our personal desires to accommodate the people and the market – we came to the conclusion that we could not prioritize further investment over all other considerations we have in a rapidly changing global industry.”
Once the Holden name is retired at the end of this year, General Motors is considering a new sub-brand called General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) that would sell selected US models such as the Chevrolet Camaro, converting them to left-hand drive.